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To Labor or Not To Labor? Is it just a question of economics?

Updated on July 3, 2015
Young African American woman at work
Young African American woman at work | Source

Happy (No) Labor Day - how would we fare?

In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

Initially I didn’t think this was even a relevant question to ask. How can we not labor in this life? I believe every self-aware person knows that we have to labor, work, exert, spent energy to get what we want out of life. Labor denotes effort on our part, from waking early or staying late, to time-managed daily grind in an air-conditioned office, or hourly hires in extreme environmental conditions and every situation in between (I even include stay-at-home parents), we can honestly say we earned the fruit of our labor, whether financially, materially, or emotionally. I am sure we’ve all had some moments of great satisfaction of a job well-done. And apparently laboring gives us happiness and meaning![1]

Without too much difficulty you can tell the difference between those that labor for the right amount and the right reasons, right away. So those who don’t labor are therefore not self-aware and I am going to be fair and say that there is a third group – one that has the characteristics of both, they are self-aware but choose not to be. They choose not to labor and expecting others to do it for them (adolescent children and immature people seem to be in that group – I have some living at my house). I will come back to those in a bit.

Why is it important to understand the distinctions in the 3 groups? Well, suppose we had a society that was made up of only one group type? How would we fare and manage as a society and how would it be different. I would venture to say that at the founding of the USA in 1776, the number of citizens who worked hovered close to 100% - if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat – it was a matter of survival – we were a third world country back then. The value of your labor was very obvious and out of charity and abundance you might have freely given to those that needed help or whose cause you believed in. It was your free choice to make that decision to give or not to give.

The economy - a matter of employers and employees?

America is known to help entrepreneurs dream. I believe this American entrepreneurial spirit is grounded on the Judeo-Christian principles found in the bible. God’s Word says to be fair in every business deal, to labor as if you were working for Him and so you can eat, and drink and enjoy as if receiving a gift, including having something to share with someone who has a need. [2] I bring this up because Christians believe the U.S. Constitution was based on the biblical commandments to treat others as we would like to be treated (also known as the Golden Rule) in other words, if we say we love God then we will love our neighbors also and treat them like we would treat ourselves. When you became part of America’s citizenry you became “equal” with other American wealth creators/entrepreneurs and as such you got rights to labor and compete effectively in school and the marketplace and create the best life for you and your family and those you choose to help. [3] It has always been individuals and families that created communities, and businesses, and “non-profits” and then local governments to help take care of their communities. It was the community leaders who later created the Federal Government and got their communities (usually run by volunteers) to support the founding of America. Because the ability of the government to perform social tasks is very limited, the non-profit (e.g., United Way, Goodwill, Girl Scouts, Churches, soup kitchens, and schools etc.) institutions became America’s largest “employer”. Non-profits exemplify and fulfill the fundamental American commitment to responsible citizenship in the community. Indeed the non-profit institution is central to the quality of life and citizenship in America, for they carry on the values of American society and traditions. [4]

Why do I say all this? We are now in 2014 and America’s political, economic and social acclaim and confidence are unclear and unsteady. We are no longer a Christian nation according to our Federal Leadership, our economic environment and landscape has shifted, up-ended and accelerated from local wealth creation to cooperative global wealth creation[5] but our workforce is not able to keep up with the demands of their jobs because their skill and knowledge sets are obsolete, not enough supply for them or they’re simply too expensive to afford. And the social entitlement programs (and therefore the government) are growing because more and more people are out on the street. So it would follow then (in my mind at least) if less people are working we will have a weak economy and less funds for funding these social programs. Then where do we get the funds from?

There is a “new” progressive spirit, as opposed to the American spirit that's saying that all our labor is really for naught. We don’t really get there on our own: it was a teacher, the schools, the roads, the internet and an unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive… You can’t say: “You built that!” because according to this progressive spirit: “Somebody else made that happen.”[6] While it is a truthful statement, I think we instinctively understand that our success is only partly due to our own efforts. I believe that’s why we, wealth creators, we entrepreneurs, we, laborers, we, Americans feel such a need to “pay it forward” to give charitably because we know we didn’t do it alone and so we help somebody get off the bottom rung. [7]

Yet, it seems that many successful entrepreneurs have inadvertently internalized the progressive critique of capitalism, sort of like collective guilt, which is: “that the capitalist wealth – all of it – belongs to the community. No one specifically earned that wealth, and no one has an exclusive right to it. Wealth is produced collectively, and therefore everyone is collectively entitled to it.” [8] Our progressive Federal leaders (who know nothing of our local issues) are touting that all the wealth creators, capitalists, entrepreneurs need to give their “fair share” (90 – 100% seems fair they say) for reparations to all the little guys on the bottom rung and they will help us do that through taxation which in turn funds their social education, “health”, contraception and death programs just to name a few. And how is it fair when only about 50% of the U.S. population pays into Federal Share Pot?[9] How do they justify my annual fundraising efforts tax-exempt for a pro-life non-profit and yet my taxes go to funding the biggest abortion provider, or anti-family education reforms? It seems like upside-down logic to me. Penalizing people for not wanting give to others is really theft and it’s not moral or correct. I for one am feeling like I’m living back in my old socialistic country and not America.

While our public teachers and schools, and roads, and social programs are available to everybody (equal access), it seems it is those entrepreneurs, those wealth creators that make better use of those public preconditions and resources for achievement. Just because they achieved more does not mean it is unearned and does not belong to them and or that they can’t choose what to do with that wealth. I want to be clear that I will pay my fair share (in taxes at 25 -30% and donations, and have) to keep the public resources and preconditions so that all Americans can achieve[10] but that I expect them to “labor, labor, labor” to improve their own lot like every other American, move up from the bottom and freely chart their own course.

In the words of Peter Drucker hailed as the dean of this country's business and management philosophers: “You are responsible for allocating your life. Nobody else will do it for you.” [11] This is how I am teaching my kids to get on in the world and how our non-profit is run: we are happy to give you a hand-up, not hand-outs – we’ll teach that the American spirit is still alive and the American dream is still worth believing in.

Enjoy your day off from Laboring! Happy Labor Day Everyone (that is a public precondition we can all support)!

[1] White, Paul D. with R. Arias. White’s Rules, Saving Our Youth One Kid At A Time. 2007. Morgan Road Books, NY and Drucker, Peter F. says: “It is much more than just getting extra money (donations) to do vital work. Giving is necessary above all so that the non-profits can discharge the one mission they all have in common: to satisfy the need of the American people for self-realization, for living out our ideals, our beliefs, our best opinion of ourselves. To make contributors out of donors means that the American people can see what they want to see – or should want to see – when each of us looks at himself or herself in the mirror in the morning: someone who as a citizen takes responsibility. Someone who as a neighbor cares.” Preface xvii in Managing the Nonprofit Organization; Principles and Practices.

[2] Proverbs 13: 4; 16:11; Ecclessiastes 3:13; Isaiah 1:17; 58:6-10; Colossians 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; and Ephesians 4:28. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+13%3A+4&version=AMP

[3] “Work. Work, work” was the method Booker T. Washington proclaimed to help his fellow blacks rise among the ranks [https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/84278.Booker_T_Washington & America. Imagine the World without her. D. D'Souza pg. 149] and even Martin Luther King urged “responsibility for their own lives. We must not use our oppression as our excuse for mediocrity and laziness… The Negro will only be free (from the walls of segregation - my addition) when he reaches down into the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own Emancipation Proclamation” [America. D. D'Souza pg.149-150]

[4] Drucker, Peter F. Managing the Nonprofit Organization, Principles and Practices. 2005. HarperCollins Publishers, NY.

[5] Ellis. J.S. and T. Morrison, Collaboration Economy. Eliminate the Competition by Creating Partnership Opportunities. 2014 Morgan James Publishing

[6] Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event in Roanoke, Virginia,” July 13, 2012; “Obama to Business Owners: You Didn’t Build That,” Fox News, July 16, 2012.

[7] Mo’ne Davis, didn’t get here without a lot of hard work & dedication on her part, and help from non-profits, and the government. We are all in this together. http://www.si.com/more-sports/2014/08/19/mone-davis-little-league-world-series-sports-illustrated-cover

[8] Dinesh D’Souza, “America. Imagine A World Without Her.” Page 157-158. 2014 Regnery Publishing. Dineshdsouza.com

[9] http://money.howstuffworks.com/only-53-percent-pay-income-tax.htm

[10] I don’t want my funds going for someone else’s contraception, abortion and euthanasia, or teaching children alternative lifestyles – those are clearly not preconditions for achievement.

[11] Drucker, P.F. “The Dean of this country’s business and management philosophers.” Managing the Nonprofit Organization, Principles and Practices. 2005. HarperCollins Publishers, NY.

The Homeless, even among the working poor people

Surveying a homeless woman in Florida.
Surveying a homeless woman in Florida. | Source
Non-traditional job of a housemover
Non-traditional job of a housemover | Source

America. Imagine A World Without Her by Dinesh D'Souza

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